Agriculture is a proven path to prosperity. No region of the world has developed a diverse, modern economy without first establishing a successful foundation in agriculture. This is going to be critically true for Africa where, today, close to 70% of the population is involved in agriculture as smallholder farmers working on parcels of land that are, on average, less than 2 hectares. As such, agriculture remains Africa’s surest bet for growing inclusive economies and creating decent jobs mainly for the youth.
Most indications are that we are ready for take-off. The prospects for African agriculture looks favorable, despite the recent slowing in economic growth across much of the continent mainly due to the sharp drop in the global prices of oil and minerals. The African food market continues to grow with World Bank estimates showing that it will be worth US$1 trillion by 2030 up from the current US$300 billion. Demand for food is also projected to at least double by 2050. These trends, combined with the continent’s food import bill, estimated at a staggering US$30–50 billion, indicate that an opportunity exists for smallholder farmers—Africa’s largest entrepreneurs by numbers—who already produce 80% of the food we eat to finally transition their enterprises into thriving businesses.
This 2017 report looks at the importance of agricultural transformation, the business pathways and value chain transformation, and strengthening financial systems for smallholder farmers.